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Can You Fly a Drone in Brooklyn?

The five boroughs of Brooklyn altogether account for 2.577 million people who live in the great state of New York per data from the United States Census Bureau. You know those boroughs can have rather crowded streets.

Are you legally allowed to fly a drone in Brooklyn?

Brooklyn, being a borough of New York City, follows Administrative Code §10-126, which proclaims that it’s illegal for drones to take or off land within the city limits except in designated areas or in emergencies.

In today’s article, I’ll unpack Brooklyn’s drone laws further and recommend some designated places near the city limits where you can fly, so make sure you check it out!

Are you allowed to fly a drone in Brooklyn?

Brooklyn and its boroughs are a part of New York City. That means that whatever NYC dictates as far as drone laws are concerned, Brooklyn follows those same laws.

If you read our series on drone laws across the United States, then you might remember that New York City has not one but two state laws to be privy to.

» MORE: Drone Laws in New York

One is the aforementioned Administrative Code §10-126 from 2017 and the second is the NYC city restriction, also from 2017. Let’s break down both laws.

Administrative Code §10-126(c)

Section C of Administrative Code §10-126 is entitled Take offs and landings. The law is short, sweet, and not to be misconstrued.

Here is the section in full: “It shall be unlawful for any person avigating an aircraft to take off or land, except in an emergency, at any place within the limits of the city other than places of landing designated by the department of transportation or the port of New York authority.”

Avigation is not a misspelled word that’s missing the N. It’s a rather antiquated term that refers to aerial navigation, so it essentially means the same thing as navigating.

Knowing that, this code makes it quite clear that unless you’ve found a designated area in Brooklyn for flying, you cannot operate your UAV within the city limits.

The only exception is if you have to take off or land in an emergency.

There are no special allowances outside of that, so recreational and commercial pilots alike should not plan to fly in Brooklyn.

New York City – City Restriction

On top of that, New York City also has a city restriction. This restriction officially makes it illegal to operate a drone in NYC, including Brooklyn.

If you, as a passerby, happen to see someone illegally flying a drone, you’re supposed to contact emergency services.

The risks of flying a drone in Brooklyn

Although taking aerial videos or photos of Brooklyn’s gorgeous cityscapes or capturing shots of its busy streets with your drone may be a dream, not all dreams are made to come true.

After all, when you think about it practically, flying a drone in Brooklyn could be a nightmare for these reasons.

Higher risk of injury to passersby

Going back to what we said in the intro, Brooklyn is home to millions of people, 2.5 million, to be more precise.

New York City is one of those places where even after dark, there are always guaranteed to be people around.

Sure, you’ll see fewer people as it gets later and later, but for Brooklyn to be a ghost town? Forget about it!

As long as people are about, and especially if there are crowds, then operating your drone always poses the risk of accidental injury, possibly to more than one person at once!

Many obstacles for your drone to crash into

Brooklyn’s city streets are crowded, as we established, but many of them are narrow as well.

While it certainly varies by borough, most of the homes in Brooklyn are clustered close together too.

You’ve got tall roofs, possible chimneys, power lines, birds, utility poles, and rushing cars as potential hazards, not to mention the buildings themselves.

You’d have to be an incredibly gifted drone pilot to navigate all these obstacles safely, and even then, there are no guarantees that you wouldn’t accidentally hit something or that an obstacle wouldn’t suddenly careen into you.

Possible interruption to signal

With so much going on in a populated part of NYC such as Brooklyn, you also can’t guarantee that your drone wouldn’t lose signal at intermittent points during your flight.

When you have no signal, your drone can no longer detect obstacles, and any automatic flight path features wouldn’t work as well.

All this is to say is that even temporary blips could cause your drone to stop working and possibly crash or for you to lose it somewhere in Brooklyn.

Great risk of property damage

We also can’t ignore the property damage risk, which is always higher when flying a drone in a crowded city.

Whether it’s someone’s home or a historic piece of Brooklyn architecture, crashing into either with your drone is generally not advised.

What happens if you get caught flying a drone in Brooklyn?

Let’s say you didn’t know that you couldn’t operate your drone around Brooklyn, so you went ahead and did it anyway. You also happened to be apprehended.

Now what?

While the New York City Administrative Code does have a section on punishment, it doesn’t detail the punishment for flying a drone illegally.

Knowing what we do about other drone laws and how they punish pilots for illegal acts, we can infer what kinds of consequences you could face.

For one, you would be fined. The fine might only be a few hundred dollars for your first offense, but that’s still money out of your pocket.

You might also risk imprisonment. Again, for a first offense, you shouldn’t expect a long term, perhaps only a month or so, but jailtime is jailtime. It all goes on your record.

If you happen to be a frequent offender, then both the fines and the time behind bars would subsequently increase for each additional offense.

Places near Brooklyn where you can legally fly a drone

New York’s Administrative Code §10-126 does mention that if you fly your drone in a designated area, it’s legal.

We’ve established that designated areas do not include Brooklyn’s city limits.

If you’re willing to venture out a little further from the boroughs, you can find many excellent places to fly. Let’s go over them now.

1. New Rochelle

The Westchester County city of New Rochelle is about an hour from Brooklyn by car.

While it’s a bit of a trip, you can access many parks throughout the city that afford waterfront views of NYC.

If you’re looking for specific parks to visit, we recommend Hudson and Davenport Parks. You can capture some of that Brooklyn magic without having to venture into the confines of the city.

2. Marine Park

If you’d rather keep it local, Marine Park in Brooklyn is a great place to launch your drone on a clear afternoon.

The park is 530 acres in all, so it’s plenty spacious, and it includes salt marshes and grasslands. Don’t get too close to the salt marshes, as they’re Forever Wild preserve areas and thus protected.

Steer clear of the park’s baseball diamonds, cricket fields, bocce courts, golf courses, and playgrounds as well. They’ll be too crowded.

3. Newark, New Jersey

It’s only about an hour’s drive from Brooklyn to Newark, New Jersey if you don’t get stopped by too much traffic.

Newark is like a miniature New York City. If you recall from our article on New Jersey drone laws, Newark specifically doesn’t have any local drone laws.

» MORE: Drone Laws in New Jersey

You still have to follow FAA flight guidelines, of course, but here is your chance to capture bustling streets and urban cityscapes, even if you’re not in New York State to do it.

4. Calvert Vaux Park

Another local park to explore with your drone is Calvert Vaux Park, which is in Gravesend.

The park is 85.53 acres and is named after an architect from England who built many of New York’s most beloved public spaces.

You’ll be able to grab shots of Gravesend Bay from the park when flying around the Model Aircraft Field.

The Parks Department and Seaview Rotary Wings Helicopter Club maintain the area so that drone pilots of all inclinations can enjoy Calvert Vaux Park!

5. LaTourette Park Model Airfield

Last but certainly not least, we’ve got LaTourette Park and its Model Airfield in Staten Island.

Yes, technically Staten Island is a part of New York City, but if you stay within the Model Airfield only, you’re flying on designated lands and thus not doing anything illegal.

You might be able to capture some incredible shots of the city that you can’t legally obtain anywhere else!

Conclusion

Flying a drone in Brooklyn is off-limits because the boroughs are a part of New York City.

If you can find designated flight spaces such as parks in and around Brooklyn, then those areas are usually legally permissible for UAV operation.

Be sure to always respect the lands you’re flying on and follow the FAA’s rules!

References:
Administrative Code §10-126 (link)